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Bronx courthouse not fit for occopancy

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One of the Bronx’ newest buildings may be unsafe after only two years of being open to the public.

The Bronx Hall of Justice, located at 265 E. 161st Street, is currently dealing with numerous structural issues that are categorized as very dangerous.

The courthouse, which was scheduled to open three years ago, has many defects, including leaks that sometimes flood the main lobby during heavy rain, damaged sewage pipes that spill waste into bathrooms, radio dead zones for building security and mouse infestation.

One of the biggest issues with the courthouse is the large underground parking garage that was supposed to open in January 2008 but has yet to see a car. According to officials, the garage ceiling has been at risk of collapsing.

The outdoor building courtyard was also recently closed down for safety concerns. Councilman Oliver Koppell recently discovered that the building had accumulated over two dozen lawsuits from the state and contractors.

“It is absolutely disgraceful over at that courthouse,” said Koppell. “Once I found out there were a lot of lawsuits I wanted to get involved. I called for an investigation but nothing has been done yet. Once the new year starts, I plan to really look into these issues.”

Two major contractors that were involved in constructing the courthouse did not wish to comment or release any further information on the building’s current situation. However, according to an official with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the known issues with the building have been addressed and for the most part are being resolved.

“We have not received any information about new issues,” said the official. “In fact because of that, we are told that the recurring issues are being taken care of quickly and are improving. We have been told that pending city approval, the structural problems in the parking garage have been repaired and it is ready to be opened.”

Councilman Koppell is still not satisfied because state officials have not released any official word of such repairs being completed. Until any work is visibly done or approved, Koppell says he will stay on top of what can be a serious issue.

“As far as I know, they have not fixed any of these major issues over in the courthouse,” said Koppell. “Until I hear otherwise, I will be on top of the ongoing safety issues at the Bronx Hall of Justice.”

Updated 5:05 pm, October 21, 2011
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